Thursday, July 19, 2007

Philosophy: The First Refuge for Chutzpah?

Michael Moore already has his Chutzpah Award for health care "services rendered;" and, if it involved more bias than we anticipated, that is no reason to take it away from him. However, given the high profile of health care in the news, it is probably time for President George W. Bush to join Condi Rice as a two-time Award winner. The justification has been provided by Washington Post Staff Writer Christopher Lee:

President Bush yesterday rejected entreaties by his Republican allies that he compromise with Democrats on legislation to renew a popular program that provides health coverage to poor children, saying that expanding the program would enlarge the role of the federal government at the expense of private insurance.

The president said he objects on philosophical grounds to a bipartisan Senate proposal to boost the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has proposed $5 billion in increased funding and has threatened to veto the Senate compromise and a more costly expansion being contemplated in the House.

"I support the initial intent of the program," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post after a factory tour and a discussion on health care with small-business owners in Landover. "My concern is that when you expand eligibility . . . you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government."

Given the man's track record, the idea of using "philosophical grounds" to undermine health coverage for poor children, one of the few things the government does with enthusiastic bipartisan support, really sets the bar for what counts as chutzpah! Nevertheless, when our President starts to dig himself into a hole, he always seems to find a way to make the hole deeper:

"I'm not going to surrender a good and important idea before the debate really gets started," Bush said. "And I think it's going to be very important for our allies on Capitol Hill to hear a strong, clear message from me that expansion of government in lieu of making the necessary changes to encourage a consumer-based system is not acceptable."

In other words he is perfectly willing to hold those kids hostage until his idea of proper deliberation gets to run its course. Even then, however, Bush did not seem to know when to stop:

In the 15-minute interview, Bush also rejected the charges by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the administration's political appointees routinely rewrote his speeches, blocked public health reports for political reasons and screened his travel.

"I can't speak to some of the complaints the surgeon general made," Bush said. ". . . He worked energetically in his job. And, obviously, at some point in time, he became very disgruntled and spoke out about it. But ours is an administration that attracts very smart, capable people. I'm very interested in their points of view, and I expect people to speak out. I also have my own points of view and feel very strongly about a lot of issues."

Bush said he is opposed to a bipartisan legislation that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products, which could lead to stronger warning labels and limits on nicotine and other ingredients.

"We've always said that nicotine is not a drug to be regulated under FDA," Bush said.

I would say that a performance of this caliber deserves an extra shiny award at the presentation ceremony!

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